During Order of the Phoenix Harry gets regular insights into Voldemort's thoughts and feelings. He gets snapshots of where Voldemort is and what he's doing. These visions stopped during Half-Blood Prince because Voldemort was practising Occlumency.

"So tell me, Harry," said Dumbledore. "Your scar...has it been hurting at all?"
Harry raised a hand unconsciously to his forehead and rubbed the lightning-shaped mark.
"No," he said, "and I've been wondering about that. I thought it would be burning all the time now Voldemort's getting so powerful again."
He glanced up at Dumbledore and saw that he was wearing a satisfied expression.
"I, on the other hand, thought otherwise," said Dumbledore. "Lord Voldemort has finally realised the dangerous access to his thoughts and feelings you have been enjoying. It appears he is now employing Occlumency against you."
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4, Horace Slughorn).

It seems that at this point Voldemort realises that giving his archenemy intimate access into his mind and his plans isn't such a good idea. Which makes it all the stranger when those visions start up again in Deathly Hallows. Why would he make himself vulnerable in this way?

In Order of the Phoenix, he uses his connection with Harry as a weapon, to trick Harry into going to the Department of Mysteries to retrieve the prophecy. Even though he also gives Harry unintended insights into his plans as well (such as when he interviews Rookwood) he is basically a step ahead of Harry. The connection serves a purpose.

In Deathly Hallows it surely serves no such purpose. It only makes Voldemort vulnerable. Because of the connection Harry is able to keep track of Voldemort's movements and plans, which hindered Voldemort on several occasions. Through the connection Harry was forewarned that Voldemort was on his way to Godric's Hollow and to Malfoy Manor. Through the connection Harry realised that Voldemort was obsessed with the Elder Wand, meaning that Harry could potentially have worked out its location and taken it before Voldemort got there. Through the connection Voldemort showed Harry that he was worried about his Horcruxes being discovered, and in the process revealed to Harry that the last Horcrux was hidden in Hogwarts. And through the connection Harry knew Voldemort was in the Shrieking Shack during the Battle of Hogwarts, allowing Harry to get Snape's last memory. Time after time, Voldemort exposed himself in a way he didn't during the previous book.

Was stopping Occlumency a conscious decision on Voldemort's part? What purpose did it serve?

  • 1
    That Dumbledore was now gone might've had something to do with it.
    – Radhil
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 13:15
  • 2
    This answers this question as well as the question it was answering. scifi.stackexchange.com/a/151459/51142
    – CHEESE
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 16:58

4 Answers 4


He was losing control - it wasn’t his conscious decision to stop.

J.K. Rowling is asked this exact question in an interview. She states he’s losing control and can’t always stop Harry seeing into his mind. He isn’t choosing in any way to let Harry have this access.

Maura: How come voldemort was no longer employing occlumency against harry, as he was in the 6th book

J.K. Rowling: He is losing control, and unable to prevent Harry seeing into his mind. The connection between them is never fully understood by Voldemort, who does not know that Harry is a Horcrux.
- Bloomsbury Live Chat (July 30, 2007)

From evidence in the books, we see that when Harry sees into his mind, it’s when he’s feeling a strong emotion - his mental state affects the connection. He also didn’t know a bit of his soul was in Harry, so he didn’t realize that was the reason behind their mental link.

  • 1
    Incredible find! This answers the part about why Harry saw inside Voldemort's mind, unlike in HBP. It leaves open the question as to whether he had intentionally stopped doing Occlumency or whether he was just not performing it well enough (although it suggests the latter). Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 10:40
  • @TheDarkLord Thanks a lot! It is somewhat open to interpretation, but I agree that it’s more likely to imply that he’s just not doing Occlumency well enough.
    – Obsidia
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 16:19

If you read carefully, you will find that Harry gains access to Voldemort's thoughts only when Voldemort loses control of his emotions, which causes him to forget to apply Occlumency. He finds out about Gregorovich just when Voldemort yields to the thrill of murder when he finds Gregorovich, he finds out Voldemort has gotten the Elder Wand when Voldemort feels triumph on finding it, he finds out the Diadem is at Hogwarts when Voldemort completely blows his stack after finding out they broke into Bellatrix's vault, he finds out Voldemort is coming to Hogwarts when Voldemort realizes the locket is missing, and so on.

  • 1
    dont forget voldemort also cant tell when harry is in his head, so voldy doesnt even know hes slipping, he only realized it was happening when harry shared in the possession of nagini.
    – Himarm
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 13:26
  • 2
    You're right that Harry only gets these visions when Voldemort's emotional. I'm not sure it's credible that he had no such moments for the entire duration of Half-Blood Prince, though. If he could control himself for that year why not the next? Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 13:35
  • @TheDarkLord year 6 doesnt really include voldy at all if i remember correctly, the year is focused on Harry and dumbledore, with snape/draco as villians. Voldy himself is chilling, no emotional outbursts.
    – Himarm
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 13:42
  • 8
    For the Majority of year 6, he had no need to get emotional. He had no idea that Harry found out about Horcruxes and he didn't know that Dumbledore had found the location of the locket (largely because it had already been destroyed by Regulus). As far as Voldy was concerned, everything was going according to plan and Draco/Snape was going to kill Dumbledore. It wasn't until Year 7 that all his Horcruxes (Bar the diary and locket, of course) suddenly started disappearing and the Elder Wand became an item of importance to him. As Himarm said, Voldy was chill. Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 14:42
  • 8
    @DisturbedNeo : Small correction - Regulus didn't destroy the locket, he replaced it and gave the original to Kreacher to destroy (which eventually led to Ron destroying the locket). Also, nothing special is required to ensure that V. didn't know D. had found the location of the locket - e.g V. didn't know D. had found the location of the ring, either.
    – PMar
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 17:15

My belief is that, while his emotions did play a part in whether or not his Occlumency was "up", there were many other factors involved besides whether or not Voldemort "allowed" Harry to see his thoughts and feelings. After all, Harry was not constantly barraging Voldemort's mind. Sometimes, Harry simply wasn't trying to read Voldemort's mind, and Voldemort had no need to block him with Occlumency. Other times, Harry was forced to feel Voldemort's strongest emotions because of the unique Horcrux bond they shared. He had no choice. (Remember, early in the story, Voldemort's thoughts intruded on Harry's, without Harry even trying.) In yet others, as stated, Harry tried and did not succeed (as with not feeling his scar hurting). And in still others, he deliberately allowed Harry to see his thoughts (even though Harry didn't seem to be trying, as in the Ministry of Magic).

Bear in mind that the mental link between Voldemort and Harry was not merely a Leglimency/Occlumency thing. It was because Harry was a Horcrux. The magical interplay between being a Horcrux and the actual use of Leglimency/Occlumency would be very complex, especially considering the apparent rarity of Horcruxes, and still further rarity of living Horcruxes.

  • I'm not sure I buy this, Tim. Dumbledore explicitly states that it's because of Occlumency that Harry's scar stopped hurting and the visions stopped. It seems to be Voldemort's prerogative to stop them. I don't recall a time when Harry actively tried to see into Voldemort's mind. Maybe you have an example? Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 13:25
  • @TheDarkLord If you don't how do you expect Tim to? :) But actually Harry does look into your (that is his) mind actively: finding him at the Shrieking Shack for example not to mention letting himself slip back into the interaction between Grindelwald and you.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 23:47
  • @Pryftan Fair enough, I'll give you those examples. I'd say that they were Harry allowing the connection between the minds to overwhelm him, which he often tried to block. My broader point of departure with the answer was that it said that Occlumency wasn't the main factor in Voldemort successfully blocking Harry's mind in book six, whereas Dumbledore says that it is. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 8:23
  • @TheDarkLord I agree that it was more like Harry was allowing the connection to take place. But I was rather responding to: I don't recall a time when Harry actively tried to see into Voldemort's mind. And Harry did indeed actively try and see (and not only try but he did) into Voldemort's mind. True Dumbledore says that and he's probably right but perhaps there is more to it? I don't know but what I do know is I was only giving you an example where Harry actively looked into Voldemort's mind. I definitely agree with your statement on the 'how' with the Grindelwald part though.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 1:44

There’s no indication that he stopped employing Occlumency, only that at some point, probably due to the strengthening of the bond between him and Harry, that its effectiveness began to break down, for reasons of which he was unaware.

I am guessing that it broke in a way that he could not detect; Harry’s thoughts and emotions were kept out of his head, which as far as he could tell indicated that it was working just fine. He had no conception that the link between them was due to a piece of his soul being lodged in Harry. As that link grew stronger, Harry had better access to Voldemort’s thoughts as time went on.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.